Film & TV

Binge-Worthy Reality TV Perfect for Quarantine

Megan Evans on Ru Paul’s Drag Race

My favourite reality show to binge watch during quarantine is currently Ru Paul’s Drag Race. Season 12 is currently airing each week on Netflix, and there is something comforting with the format of the show, being slightly like a reality show such as Big Brother but much more engaging and entertaining and a completely separate ordeal. It is much more attentive and better than many television competitions that are being broadcast. ​​​​​​​​ 

A synopsis of the show is basically a bunch of drag queens from all over the US, some well-known names and others more low-down hand selected by Ru Paul himself to compete at becoming USA’s next drag superstar. They all engross in a range of mini and maxi challenges such as acting in a sketch, crafting drag outfits for friends and family to walk the runway and performing stand-up comedy just to name a few, in front of a panel of judges, usually featuring a headline name, like in recent seasons Lady Gaga, Cara Delevingne and Christina Aguilera. 

My favourite challenge is Snatch Game, a tradition across all seasons where contestants have to impersonate celebrities in a drag like persona. It is such a flamboyant show and the themes are ranging in diversity as each episode consists of new ideas and concurs political engagement and pop culture illusions, there is a lot of shock value and presents talent in a very uncritical way.​​​​​​​​Those interested in fashion and beauty will find it extremely interesting as it has an insightful investigation into the LGBTQ+ community and shows through hard times and struggles, there is still joy in the art of drag as it takes a lot of skill, talent and experience to succeed.

 It is such a genuine show that showcases a positive message for anyone who uses creativity as an outlet, it has inspired so many as they literally put themselves out there for the world to judge, especially in a time where many are still segregated.  It is such an easy watch, very funny and a celebration of diversity, not to mention the addictiveness in the catchphrases such as ‘Okuuuuur’, and interesting storylines that causes drama, but is not too over the top.

Eva Rodericks on Zumbo’s Just Desserts 

The Australian series Zumbo’s Just Desserts will supply you with sugar, spice and all things nice through isolation. Zumbo’s Just Desserts is a crazily impressive dessert making competition, with contestants cooking everything from the biggest children’s party cakes to classy panna cottas to incredible ice creams, all in the most amazing ways you can possibly imagine. The competition is filmed in every child’s dream, the quirky and bright Willy Wonka inspired dessert factory. Each episode, the ten competitors are set a sweet sensations task; themes have included fright night, smoke and mirrors and suspended in time. This series will get on you on the edge of your seat (and your mouth drooling) as the contestant’s battle against the clock to turn their sweet visions into reality, and often, fail.

Hosted by the king of all things sweet, Adriano Zumbo, and British chef and writer, Rachel Khoo, the pair judge the contestant’s creations and decide on the weakest two desserts in the competition, which the makers of then go into the dreaded Zumbo test. This involves recreating one of Zumbo’s breath-taking (and super complicated) desert creations, which they have three hours to complete, and are then scored out of twenty on. Week by week the loser of the Zumbo test is eliminated, until a winner is announced. The competition is fuelled by drama, emotion and a drive for success, with competitors ruthlessly fixing their eyes on the 100,000 Australian dollar prize and the prestige of the title – Zumbo’s Just Desserts winner! You will likely find yourself routing for one of the competitors, as their deserts and personalities will truly capture your heart and maybe even inspire you to take up some baking yourself. Netflix currently has two series to offer, giving you enough fuel for a satisfying binge session – need I say anymore?

Jonas Jamarik on Kenny VS. Spenny 

What happens when two lifelong friends put their relationship at stake for our amusement? That’s one of the main questions that guides the legendary cult show Kenny vs. Spenny. Each episode sees Kenny Hotz and Spencer Rice compete in a different competition, and the loser suffers a (disgusting) humiliation. It’s part Jackass, part documentary, part mindless fun and part a moralistic exploration of the lengths people go to amuse an audience. Competitions range from the fairly normal, ‘who can stay awake the longest?’ To the extremely stupid, ‘who can wear a dead octopus on their head the longest?’ To the illegal, ‘who can smoke more weed?’ To the life-threatening, ‘who can drink more beer?’ Although sharing some of the same elements, the series is far from a gameshow. Its best parts come from the real moments between the two friends who live together and grow further apart from each other with each cruel humiliation. The deterioration of a lifelong friendship is one of the most fascinating aspects of the show and it often has shocking results, such as Spenny quitting the show, or even physically attacking Kenny.

The show is also laugh-out-loud hilarious. Both Kenny and Spenny are entertaining in their own way, with Kenny being the devious extrovert who is always ready to cheat, and Spenny being the moralizing, goody-two-shoes who is always determined to be honest. Kenny often steals the show, and some of the most unbelievable episodes come from his complex schemes to win at all costs. Kenny is no stranger to immoral behaviour such as hiring S&M practitioners to break into Spenny’s room and harass him, faking a broken leg and making Spenny take care of him, or dosing him with LSD. Spenny is highly vulnerable to all this and one of the guiltiest pleasures of the show is watching how it almost drives him to madness. To some extent, the show wants you to question whether seeing people ruin their lives is really what it takes to entertain you. Most shows take place inside their house, and all 87 episodes are on YouTube.

Amelia Field on 100 Humans

Being in isolation has left me a lot of time to binge whatever I can get my hands on especially stuff I can have on in the background when I’m supposed to be working. Netflix’s 100 Humans is perfect for this. The premise is that 100 humans from different ages, races and backgrounds are brought together over a month-long period to test out different questions about human nature that we all may have. This includes many questions from whether we all have a racial bias to if sperm count affects your dance ability.

The show isn’t totally scientific, it’s much more about the entertainment value rather than its scientific prowess. Within another article I have shunned this show based on how it masquerades as a social experiment which can have meaningful impacts on what we take away from it. Despite this, the show has a very entertaining, high energy feel and the majority of the experiments calculated have little real-world consequences but may answer things we have wondered for a while about human nature. Some of my favourite episodes have been the age episode in which different age groups compete in competitions such as building a flat pack chair and memory tests.

Despite silly experiments and finding out about human nature, it’s beautiful to see a diverse group of humans come together and work together, having shared experiences and learning about one another. Often it is easy to judge people who aren’t from the same background or don’t have the same experiences as you and this show proves to us that we all share a common sense of humanity and may have more things in common than we think we do.